Homers hamper Correia, Giants

Homers hamper Correia, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Usually there's a bit of trepidation as a team heads on the road -- hotel beds to sleep in, different ballpark to play in, jet lag and being away from family.

But maybe not for the Giants.

As they embark on a seven-game Midwest junket to Chicago and Milwaukee on Monday, facing the Cubs for a three-game set starting Monday night at Wrigley Field, there's almost a sense of relief.

San Francisco has an undistinguished 22-30 home record this year, worst mark in the National League, after falling, 4-1, to the Florida Marlins on Sunday at SBC Park.

But surprise, surprise, there's hope the Giants can finally gain ground on the struggling San Diego Padres, the National League West leaders who have dropped seven consecutive games.

The Giants remain in fourth place, seven games out of first behind Arizona and Los Angeles.

Felipe Alou's crew has won seven of its last 10 road games and ranks second in the Senior Circuit with a .274 batting average away from home, while rated fourth by scoring 4.6 runs per game.

Not that Alou is scoreboard watching.

"We're not looking at San Diego, we are looking at us," he said. "To me, the single most important thing that is losing right now is not San Diego, it is the San Francisco Giants.

"We have an uphill battle that will take a while. Seven games are getting bigger and bigger with the fewer number of games that we have to play. We are not losing ground, but we are losing games to play."

Although the club lost yet another series over the weekend -- the Giants haven't won a set at home since late May -- there was a positive note from Sunday's defeat, with young hurler Kevin Correia cementing his spot in the rotation with an excellent outing.

Yes, the 24-year-old gave up three costly homers -- he had no one to blame but himself as his record fell to 1-2 -- but Correia earned accolades by limiting the Marlins to five hits and ventured into the seventh inning for the first time in his career.

Quite a turnaround from his shaky outing last Monday vs. Atlanta, when the right-hander gave up six hits and five runs -- and three homers -- over four frames.

"He is staying in the rotation especially with the way he threw today," said Alou. "He made two or three mistakes but is getting closer to being the pitcher that we had envisioned."

Correia did kick himself for his recent penchant for gopher balls, but what irked him more was hitting Paul Lo Duca with a pitch in the sixth -- he was a strike away from ending the inning, but Juan Encarnacion followed up with a game-breaking two-run homer.

"I was one strike away from a quick inning, but [the pitch] ran inside and caught his hands -- that essentially cost me two more runs after that when I should have gotten out of the inning," said Correia.

Overall, however, it was a strong showing by the kid at a critical time when the Giants need quality starts.

"That was probably the best I've pitched since I've been up here for my four starts," said Correia. "I'm pretty happy with it except for the home runs, which have been a problem for me lately.

"I had better command of my pitches today was pretty much throwing 'em where I wanted to," said Correia, who also dealt a homer ball to winning pitcher A.J. Burnett in the second, a blow he never saw.

"My front foot planted and I slid, so I kind of tried to throw the ball over the plate -- the pitcher, you're hoping he wouldn't hit it over the fence like that," said Correia. "I didn't even see it."

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba said Correia was aggressive against the Marlins and throwing strikes.

"He was getting ahead with his fastball and sinker and mix it up," said Torreabla. "The second time around, he threw some breaking balls and threw pretty good."

Another bright spot for the Giants was Moises Alou's offensive day, the veteran going 3-for-3 to rank fourth in the National League with a .331 average, and boosted his best-in-baseball daytime average to .429.

After the contest, the Giants recalled right-handed pitcher Jesse Foppert from his rehabilitation assignment with Class A San Jose and activated him from the 15-day disabled list. Foppert threw a solid bullpen Sunday and was optioned to Triple-A Fresno for rehab work.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.